Backchannelling in the Classroom

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March 16, 2012 by Brad Currie

The integration of Web 2.0 tools into the classroom setting allows for teachers to make instruction engaging and relevant. One tool in particular,, uses the technique of backchannelling for students to provided real time feedback and questions related to the topics they are studying in class. Various teachers at Readington Middle School have begun to explore and implement this best practice teaching technique to promote the success of their students.

At a recent faculty meeting,, was infused during a discussion on the middle school learner. The backchannelling tool allowed for teachers to share their own personal thoughts about the topic which led to even deeper discussions both during and after the faculty meeting. Several teachers have also begun to use this tool in their classes as a way to engage learners and assess comprehension of the topic at hand.

Mrs. Vissoe, a 6th grade reading teacher, is using the backchannelling technique to help students relate to and understand the book Promises to Keep which focuses on the life of baseball great Jackie Robinson. In one of the first classes that Mrs. Vissoe implemented a student typed a question asking the meaning of a vocabulary term used in the book. A class discussion revealed that no other student knew the meaning of the term either. Mrs Vissoe was easily able to clarify the term, but had this backchannelling tool not been used, Mrs. Vissoe couldn’t guarantee that the question would have been asked.

Ms. Newcamp and Mrs. Petersen have started using during their advisory group sessions that meet once a week at the end of the school day. They felt that sometimes students were too shy to share their viewpoint during certain discussions that were taking place. So they decided to infuse this backchannelling tool during their most recent session and found it to have great success. Students began to share more, and what they were typing spurred additional conversations about relevant issues going on in school and society.

As you can see the integration of effective Web 2.0 tools, such as, into the classroom setting gives students a voice and promotes a more engaging learning atmosphere. This specific backchannelling tool also allows for real time feedback that can help gauge teachers’ approach to present and future lessons. An exciting and bright future in the education world is certainly upon us with the great edtech tools that are available to make learning engaging and relevant. The faculty at Readington Middle School have always been on the cutting edge of best practice teaching techniques and the recent integration of backchannelling is just another great example of their commitment to promoting the success of all students.

By: Brad Currie, Vice Principal @RMS_VIKINGS

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Brad Currie

Brad Currie

Brad Currie is the Middle School Dean of Students and Supervisor of Instruction for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. He is the co-founder and co-moderator of #Satchat on Twitter. Brad is passionate educational technology and social media in the school setting.

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